Interview with the directors of Wild Hearts: differences with Monster Hunter, why it is launching so soon and much more


Wild Hearts is EA and Koei Tecmo’s answer to Monster Huntera familiar mix of fantasy combat and gigantic beasts, with some less familiar magical constructs and traps.

It will go on sale as soon as February 17, 2023, and has been a surprise for fans of Omega Force and Monster Hunter-type games, and there is still much to know, even after we have been able to see the first trailer. Luckily, we have an exclusive interview with two of Koei Tecmo’s directors, Kotaro Hirata and Takuto Edagawa.

We asked why the developer of Dynasty Warriors is making a new monster hunting game (again), if it’s open world, if that building system is meant to look like Fortnite, and more.

IGN: Omega Force is best known for its Musou/Warriors games, but this seems like a big departure from that approach. What was the spark for the idea of ​​Wild Hearts?

Kotaro Hirata: This project started as an attempt to create a Japanese-style hunting game that a new generation of gamers around the world could have fun with. It was based on our experience in developing hunting games, specifically the Toukiden series.

Our goal of creating a Japanese-style hunting game for a new generation was constant from start to finish, but bringing this core idea to life was not something that happened overnight. One of the challenges we faced was creating something unique with universal appeal that would be accepted by gamers all over the world. To achieve this, we went through various prototypes and trial and error over a long period of time.

The ideas that formed the core of the project were Kemono, a fusion of nature and animals; and Karakuri, a craft item that was added specifically to suit the hunting items in this game. We believe that Wild Hearts, born from these core ideas, is a hunting game that offers a new and innovative experience.

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IGN: As you mentioned, this game shares similarities with your previous work in the Toukiden series. Why did you feel like it had to be a new IP, rather than a sequel to Toukiden?

Takuto Edagawa: We wanted Wild Hearts to appeal to a more global audience than the Toukiden series. Certainly, as a Japanese-style hunting game, Wild Hearts has some things in common with Toukiden. However, the original aspects of Wild Hearts, such as what is hunted, the combat system, the world setting, and the visual presentation, are different from Toukiden.

“Karakuri differs from the direction of construction in Fortnite, which allows you to create huge structures.”

IGN: Can you explain the build system shown in the trailer? Do you only create hunting tools or can you build structures like in Fortnite?

KH: Players hunt using a type of crafting called Karakuri, an ancient technology that allows for extremely flexible and creative hunting grounds to take on powerful beasts. Karakuri can range from types that can be built instantly during battle, to some that can be combined to create new Karakuri, and also types that are used to build hunting grounds using many different materials.

The Karakuri expand the freedom and possibilities of hunting combat and exploration in this game, thus differing from the direction of construction in Fortnite, which allows the creation of huge structures.

IGN: One thing that’s less clear from the trailer is the combat system. Will it have the loosest, most fluid combat in the Musou games, or will it be closer to the heaviness and precision needed from Monster Hunter?

KH: Wild Hearts features a combat system that combines a wide variety of highly flexible actions with deep Kemono combat.

Players can not only perform dashes, jumps, grabs, slides, and other actions required in today’s action games, but can further enhance the performance of their actions by making full use of the Karakuri system. On the other hand, Kemono, which are a fusion of nature and animals, can hunt down players with a wide variety of attacks that real animals cannot perform.

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In Wild Hearts, players will experience a new type of combat unlike the Warriors series or hunting titles we’ve seen before.

IGN: Is it an open world game or is the world divided into zones?

TE: Wild Hearts uses an area-based system, which we believe has significant benefits in a hunting game where the player hunts repeatedly. Each separate zone is a large area, and players can reach almost anywhere in a zone using the Karakuri, so it can be enjoyed as an open world game where the world is actively explored.

IGN: Why did you go for 3-player max co-op?

TE: Originally, we thought about having four players for cooperative play. However, during development, we realized that due to the power of the Karakuri, three-player combat offers the best balance to maintain a sense of tension and cooperative combat. We also took into account the fact that it’s easier to get three players together.

IGN: Is this the first Omega Force game that seems impossible to make on next-gen consoles? What has it taught you about creating games for the new generation that you will take to future projects?

KH: We believe that the fantastic and unique worldview inspired by feudal Japan is one of the key aspects of Wild Hearts. To make the world more attractive, we found it necessary to maximize the performance of today’s platforms.

Specifically, we’ve improved the atmosphere by incorporating more accurate indirect lighting, and increased density by placing higher resolution fields, Kemono, and objects in-game.

With Wild Hearts, we have accepted the challenge of using new technologies. We hope that players will use the Karakuri to move freely around the colorful and vast world that we have created.

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“In Wild Hearts, players will experience a new kind of combat that is different from the Warriors series or hunting titles we’ve seen before.”

IGN: Koei Tecmo self-publishes most of its studio work. Why was EA involved in this project?

KH: We wanted to create a hunting game that would be enjoyed by gamers all over the world. EA is not only very strong in international publishing, but has brought a lot to Wild Hearts with its wealth of experience, and is truly committed to ensuring that our game reaches a global audience.

IGN: Wild Hearts was announced this month, but it’s coming out in February. How long has the team been working on Wild Hearts and why has it been kept a secret for so long?

KH: If we start counting from the conception and planning phases, we have been working on Wild Hearts for four years. We’ve been wanting to tell players about this game for a long time, but we thought that the shorter the time between the announcement and the release, the less time players would have to wait and the more interested they would be in playing the game.

IGN: Is this a conscious attempt to appeal to a more general Western audience?

TE: We are very aware that we want more people in the West to play our games, and we have received a lot of feedback from EA from a Western perspective on many details, which helps us know where to adjust the game.

However, in terms of basic design, we’re not too conscious of focusing only on Western audiences, and as Japanese developers, we try to create something that we find fun. EA is of the same opinion and really respects our creativity.

Here you can see everything Wild Hearts announced to date, including its trailer and release date.